Emery sharp again; Pyorala making strong roster bid

The Flyers' 2-1 preseason win over the visiting New Jersey Devils Thursday night featured another strong performance by new goalie Ray Emery, an overtime goal by winger Mika Pyorala and two pretty assists from Danny Briere. Emery looked like he was in midseason form as he made 31 saves _ including several acrobatic ones _ and lowered his preseason GAA to 2.20. He also has a .930 save percentage. Pyorala converted a slick feed from Briere and scored from the slot after 1:45 of OT to give the Flyers (2-2-1) the win. The Finn is having a strong preseason and making it difficult for the Flyers to send him to the AHL Adirondack Phantoms. It appears that Blair Betts has made the team as a fourth-line center. That leaves Pyorala _ a 28-year-old who has played eight-plus seasons in Europe _ and talented rookie James van Riemsdyk in a battle for what could be the final available forward spot. The Flyers could keep both of them if they decided to send popular enforcer Riley Cote to the Phantoms. But GM Paul Holmgren said Cote will start the season as part of the Flyers' roster. Cote is a warrior and a great team player. That said, the Flyers would be better served by keeping JVR and Pyorala. The Flyers already have enough hard-nosed players (see Dan Carcillo, Arron Asham, Ian Laperriere, Chris Pronger et al). Keeping Cote becomes a luxury.